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Gilroy Neighborhood Cleaning Up Winter Mess

Neighbors in the Rancho Hills development area are complaining of loose topsoil and slides during the recent rains.

The grading during the summer that caused a dust-up among Rancho Hills neighbors seems to be causing new problems during the recent winter storms.

Gilroy Public Works Director Rick Smelser reported the weekend rains washed away some of the topsoil on a slope that was being landscaped. "The slopes were seeded prior to the storms, but the seeding didn't take root in time," he said. "The landscaping didn't have good erosion control or rooting system yet, but it's not a major problem."

Residents in the area complained to City Hall in July that the landscaping was kicking up excessive amounts of dust. Citizens said construction crews failed to water down the ground, creating large clouds of dust.

Neighbor Phil Williams reported during the early December storms that the the slope was "falling down" due to all the rains.

"The last time we talked with neighbors, we noted that it's topsoil that's eroding. It's not like the hillside is coming down," Smelser said. "We've covered the areas that lost their seeding with tarps. At the end of the rainy season, the landscape company will go back and reseed."

Smelser said debris blocked a storm grate, causing a nearby creek to overflow, sending some water into the streets, but that crews responded immediately and water was flowing normally again.

"The street looks great. The creek is running fantastic," Smelser reported after reviewing the site Wednesday morning. "The first few storms of season cause some flushing and that's what happened here. Debris is flushed into grate, but because we were able to clear it away, I doubt the overflowing will happen again. The creek should flow fine now. There was just a little topsoil removed from slopes."

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